National Farmers' Federation

Green light for urea processing just what’s needed says NFF

National Farmers Federation Chief Executive Tony Mahar says the green light for a major fertiliser manufacturing plant in regional Western Australia is hugely positive news. 

“Today’s announcement by the Federal Government of the granting of major project status to a urea processing facility, is exactly what is needed to propel Australia’s self-sufficiency when it comes to critical inputs.

“During COVID, supply chains almost ground to a complete halt and exposed Australia’s reliance on the import of key inputs including urea.

“Many Australians would be shocked to learn the nation imports 90% of its urea, the most commonly used fertiliser in agriculture. Without urea, crop production would fall 30-40%.

“Positive seasonal conditions meant many farmers were setting up for a bumper cereal crop but faced the worrying prospect they wouldn’t be able to get the fertiliser they needed to realise their crop’s potential. 

“Similarly, we almost lost the ability to put groceries on our shelves due to disruptions to the supply of AdBlue, a diesel additive that is derived from urea.” 

Mr Mahar said the planned production capacity of the plant in Geraldton of 1.4 million tonnes per annum of urea from clean hydrogen and natural gas, represented a new era of manufacturing capability in Australia. 

“It’s a blueprint for further manufacturing of critical inputs and agricultural outputs in regional areas.

“We are not suggesting we turn our backs on international trade. What Australia needs is domestic capability for critical inputs, so we can keep meeting the strong export demand for our agricultural products.

“The project will be a welcomed economic and social injection into the mid-west region with the plant forecast to create up to 1135 full time jobs during construction and 300 full time positions during normal operation.” 

The NFF continues to make the case for a renaissance of regional manufacturing and importantly, is calling on the establishment of a combined Government, industry and civil society council to address import dependencies and to devise a plan to prevent potential supply chain disasters.

“The upcoming Federal Budget and Federal Election are critically important. The NFF will be ensuring all parties prioritise what’s needed to guarantee a vibrant future for agriculture and regional Australia. This includes securing access to essential inputs and jobs and opportunities for regional Australians. Both are critical ingredients in agriculture’s goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030,” Mr Mahar said. 

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